Category Archives: Domesticities

Lamb, leek and artichoke stew.

We just got back from Sundance and the ALTitude Design Summit. Whew! 15 hr jetlag with a wee one is not for the feint of heart. While I was in Park City trying to decide what to make for dinner, I was inspired by this beautiful artichoke tureen in my parent’s china cabinet. It ended up being a great thing to serve 16 of our friends visiting for Sundance as I was able to make it in the morning in between FX’s naps. The lemon and leeks play beautifully off the lamb, which is cooked until very tender and until it has lost any hint of gaminess–making it quite a crowd pleaser. The recipe is pretty simple: you brown the lamb, remove it, cook the onion and leeks and herbs together in the lamb juices, return the lamb, add stock and simmer for a couple of hours. Add lemon juice and artichokes (I used canned hearts in water) and simmer a little longer. And you’re done! I served this with risotto, but egg noodles or potatoes would also work well. I’m definitely adding this to my list of great make-ahead, crowd-pleasing, winter dishes! See this post for more great lasagna alternatives.

Oh and here’s a picture of the lil man in the official Sundance onesie!!

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Marleen Molenaar raincoats and pjs.

There’s not much in life cuter than mini Morton salt girls… am I right?

I think the perfect gift is always something you wouldn’t get for yourself, but that you will actually use.

That’s why I was so happy to have found these yellow rain coats and hats by local Hong Kong pajama and outerwear designer Marleen Molenaar.

Marleen has a studio / office by appointment only in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. You can make an appointment to go through all of her lovely, whimsical clothes or you can also shop online: she ships all over the world. Marleen has worked in the clothing industry for decades, including for Esprit. She has really crafted a nice niche for herself… it’s so nice to buy something that you know isn’t ubiquitous, but it still the highest quality design and craftsmanship.

I really like her simple blue and white branding. It’s very light-hearted and elegant, just like Marleen herself. Marleen hails from Amsterdam, but has been in HK for years.

In addition to the raincoats I bought for all my favorite little ones this holiday season, she also has a wonderful collection of classic pajamas.

How adorable is my godson in his cozy robe?

I couldn’t resist getting these fish PJs for the HK bundle… he’s still way too small to fit into it, but I’m looking forward to the day when he’ll be big enough to be my little fisherman!

Room 502, Tak Woo House
1-3 Wo On Lane/17-19 D’Aguilar Street
Central, Hong Kong

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Black forest cake.

While often made for Halloween, the festive nature of this dark chocolate, cherry and whipped cream cake makes it equally appropriate for the holidays.

To be honest, I would never have thought to make it on my own as I’ve never tasted a decent version and am very adverse to desserts with cherries… but as it was the Mr.’s request, I gave it my best effort!

It is a labour of love! Basically you bake a cake, slice it carefully into three layers, and then fill it with layers of ganache, home made (there is no other way, really) whipped cream and cherries and kirsch (which is a cherry liquor).

But as we were just home for Christmas and not entertaining hordes, I had plenty of time for the requisite steps most notably making sure the cake is completely cool before slicing and I really enjoyed putting it all together.And it was delicious! Recipe: Nigella Lawson community member.

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Mulled wine + apple cider spice sachets.

How about an inexpensive, festive and super easy DIY Christmas gift?

Mulled wine or spiced cider sachets are jus that!

I recently put some together with some other ladies for a Vision First fundraiser. 

We, of course, had to cook the books and try a few different recipes / wine / cider ratios until we ended up at this one! 

–4 broken cinnamon sticks (2 total)
–10 cardamon pods
–2 tangerine petals
–12 cloves
–1 star anise
–12 peppercorns
–6 allspice.

I got mine inexpensively at Yaun Heng Spice Co. in Sheung Wan. If you’re in the States, I recommend buying your spices at Cost Plus Market. Then it’s easy peasy; cut up some cheesecloth or fine linen (I used pinking shears for an extra decorative touch), fill with spices and tie with kitchen string.

We had a stamp made for a few dollars down in the lanes… and then tied up five sachets with a pretty ribbon for quite elegant packaging!

I think they make perfect hostess gifts or stocking stuffers! And the fact that they work in wine or juice makes them perfect for everyone.

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USS Bonhomme Richard visit.

Last week we hosted 18 navy and marine service people and as a surprise bonus we were invited on a tour of their ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard. 

What a cool ship she is!

The Bonhomme is an amphibious operation, which means the back of the boat looks like a gator’s mouth: there is a wide opening in the back well that can be opened even larger as the ship lowers its ballast to the back end to let out giant landing rafts that can transport a dozen humveess and tanks to shore, loaded with marines. The ship had three of these crazy rafts. You can see in the photo above the giant fans that inflate the crafts so they can float to shore.

I’d never really seen tanks or humvees in person and they are so stinking big!

Oshkosh, as it turns out, makes more than little boys overalls. It was amazing to think of all of the planning that goes into just loading up a ship like this.

And while I felt a lot of pride to be an American with such a fully prepared armed  forces, I also was very cognisant of the fact that none of the equipment on this boat had ever been used.

Up top, there was a runway to land helicopters and jets. It was pretty cool to see the helicopters up close.

This is the giant missile system that protects the Bonhomme.

But our guide said that they would be in trouble if they ever had to use it as it has a relatively short range. Those little circles each have a missile behind them.

The boat afforded some great views of Victoria Harbor. We took a 30-minute boat ride out from Central to board this giant boat.

Above you can see both IFC and ICC which is pretty cool.

Our tour was led by a really lovely lady whose job it is to DRIVE this boat! Can you imagine?!

She showed us around her “office” where she drives the boat.

The Bonhomme is a steam ship and can travel up to 20 knots.

She weighs in at 40,000 tons and regularly carries 1200 Navy and can transport 1,800 Marines.

I thought all the navigational equipment was really quite beautiful in its own sturdy, traditional way.
Here I am pretending to ring the bell… which is actually automated!

The secondary mission of the boat is medical and one whole floor is a hospital. The room above can be turned into an ICU; you can see all the lamps and equipment just needs to be lowered into place.

After aircraft carriers and medical boats, it has the third largest medical facilities of all of the Navy’s boats. One whole floor is dedicated to medical.

This elevator takes patients from the airstrip directly to the O.R. The ship has everything a modern day hospital has and has several operating theaters and can accomodate 300 patients in an ICU.

Isn’t this a cool shot into an O.R. from the port hole?  To end, I’ll leave you with some shots of the service people over at our home for a BBQ.

My neighbor Kirsten and I hosted and we asked some girlfriends to accompany to have more people on hand to chat with the service people. Unfortunately, the Mr.’s were caught at work, so we ended up having the Marines and Navy guys help with the BBQing. I think they actually miss doing things like this and they did a much better job than the girls would have done on their own so it all worked out!

We hosted the BBQ down by the pool / parking lot in the kiddie play area. It was nice to be outside!

Tequila shots were requested by some and so we obliged!

And finished up with some nice desserts!

A sweet ending to a sweet night! It’s always such a pleasure to meet these men and women and thank them for their service. If you’re interested in hosting, simply email:

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